(CNSNews.com) — Hundreds of people protested in front of the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., on April 24 – the anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 -- to denounce Turkey’s denial of the genocide, which killed an estimated 1.5 million people, most of them Christians.
The Armenian Genocide of 1915-17 has been officially recognized by 30 countries and by most historians and scholars. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan compared the Armenian Genocide to the Holocaust and the genocide in Communist Cambodia.
“The Turkish government has not only denied the Armenian Genocide [and] obstructed justice in the longest, largest criminal cover-up in world history, but on top of that, they’ve exported it to the U.S.,” said Aram Hamparian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) at the protest.
“They’ve used bullying to enforce a gag-rule here in Washington, D.C. such that the U.S. policy is not even a U.S. policy -- it’s a Turkish policy,” said Hamparian.
Nareg Kuyumjian, a student from Georgetown University and a member of the Armenian Youth Federation, said, “A genocide denied is a genocide continued. If you don’t hold [Turkish] perpetrators accountable, genocide and violence will continue.”
In addition to the protesters there were many people in front of the embassy who defended Turkey’s position and denied that what happened to the Armenians was genocide.
One protester from Maryland, who has dual U.S. and Turkish citizenship, told CNSNews.com, “The Armenian people came together in groups … and they started to massacre and kill the Turkish people who were living … in the territories of Turkey. Their aim was to make a cleansing of the Turkish people so they can have the territory for themselves.”
When asked where he got this information, the man cited the national archives in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.
Günay Evinch, the co-chairman of the Turkish-American National Steering Committee, said, “Since 2005 — April 24th — the Turkish-American community has increasingly shown interest in rebutting the Armenian allegations of genocide. We think there is another narrative.”
“They call it genocide because they believe there is an intent in the relocation, not to relocate, but to kill (because these people are Armenian or Orthodox Christians),” said Evinch. “We don’t read that in the archives or the historical record. We don’t see that at all.”
Over the decades, numerous scholars and political leaders have commented on the Armenian Genocide. For instance, in 1919, then-U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau Sr., said, “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact. . . .
“I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.”
President Jimmy Careter said in 1976 at a White House ceremony, “It is generally not known in the world that, in the years preceding 1916, there was a concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people, probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group. And there weren't any Nuremberg trials.”
Yossi Beilin, in 1994 the Israeli deputy foreign minister, said on the floor of the Knesset, “It was not war. It was most certainly massacre and genocide, something the world must remember... We will always reject any attempt to erase its record, even for some political advantage.”
Speaking on the floor of the U.S. House, then-Rep. Gerald Ford (R-Mich.) said, "Mr. Speaker, with mixed emotions we mark the 50th anniversary of the Turkish genocide of the Armenian people. In taking notice of the shocking events in 1915, we observe this anniversary with sorrow in recalling the massacres of Armenians and with pride in saluting those brave patriots who survived to fight on the side of freedom during World War I.”
Theodore Roosevelt in 1918 said, “ . . the Armenian massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey is to condone it . . . the failure to deal radically with the Turkish horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense.”
The protesters gathered specifically at Sheridan's Circle in Washington D.C., which is close to both the Turkish and Armenian Embassies.
“This is where Turkish President Erdogan's bodyguards attacked U.S. protesters back in 2017” said Hamparian. “Since that attack, essentially all the charges against all of Erdogan’s security detail have been dropped. He’s been given a free pass on trying to suppress the rights of Americans, which is a disgrace.
“So we’re here to reclaim this space as American space where U.S. citizens can speak our minds without fear of intimidation,” said Hamparian.